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Seasonal Influenza

Find out where residents can get the flu vaccine in Niagara. Learn about immunization delivery during COVID-19.

Influenza vaccination is expected to be particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, benefiting individuals, the larger community and the overall health system. Make a strong recommendation for your patients to get the flu shot.

Expert groups and evidence indicate that getting the influenza vaccine will not increase your risk of COVID-19 illness.

Universal Influenza Immunization Program

Each year, the Ministry of Health provides publicly funded influenza vaccine through the Universal Influenza Immunization Program.

Public Health supports Niagara's health care professionals in implementing this program by providing:

  • A pre-determined, equitable, initial allotment of influenza vaccine for vulnerable and high-risk groups. The exception is agencies and workplaces, who receive influenza vaccine based on ordering.
  • Additional vaccine for subsequent orders based on availability
  • Information regarding the influenza vaccine products, supply and distribution
  • Details on local flu activity and surveillance
  • Posters

Contact

Call the Vaccine Preventable Disease program Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7396

Health Cards

Public Health is getting inquiries from individuals not being able to get a free flu shot because of their health card status. As a reminder, the Universal Influenza Immunization Program offers influenza vaccine free of charge to all individuals six months of age and older who live, work or go to school in Ontario.

Follow direction from the Ministry of Health for administering flu shots:

Vaccine Information

  • Groups requiring immunization

    An influenza vaccination should be offered to all patients who are six months of age and older this fall, unless contraindicated.

    The initial allotment of influenza vaccine should be used for vulnerable and high-risk groups, including:

    • Health care and essential workers
    • Individuals at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
    • Those at high risk for influenza complications include:
      • Young children
      • Pregnant women
      • Indigenous people
      • People with underlying medical conditions
      • Residents of long-term care and retirement homes
      • Chronic care and congregate facilities
      • Those 65 years of age and older

    Immunization of the general population commences when the Ministry of Health does the official launch of the 2020-2021 Universal Influenza Immunization Program.

  • Influenza vaccines for 2020-2021
    • Standard-dose quadrivalent (QIV) for clients six months of age and older (pre-filled syringe or multi-dose vial)
    • High-dose trivalent (TIV) for clients 65 years of age and older, if applicable to your practice (pre-filled syringe)

    Don't delay vaccination to wait for a particular product. Both standard-dose QIV and high-dose TIV protect against the flu, and the most important thing is for older adults to be vaccinated. Seniors are eligible for one publicly funded influenza vaccination per season only.

    Flucelvax Quad is a mammalian cell culture-based quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine that is authorized for use in Canada for individuals nine years of age and older. This vaccine is primarily distributed to pharmacies and won't be included on our Seasonal Influenza Order Form. Patients with egg allergies don't need to be referred to a pharmacy. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization states that egg allergy is not a contraindication for influenza vaccination.

    Vaccine orders may include both multi-dose vials and pre-filled syringes. Make the necessary room in your vaccine fridge to accommodate the packaging. Pre-filled syringes will require the addition of a 1-inch to 1.5-inch safety-engineered needle tip.

    The recommended needle gauge and lengths for intramuscular injections are:

    Needle recommendation Infants, toddlers and children Adolescents and adults
    Gauge 22 - 25 22 - 25
    Length

    7/8ths of an inch - 1 inch

    1 - 1.5 inch

    In anticipation of a cold chain inspection before receiving influenza vaccine, review how to monitor the vaccine fridge temperature and how to handle a cold chain excursion.

  • Ordering the influenza vaccine

    Primary Care

    As a primary care provider, your initial allotment of the publicly funded influenza vaccine is based on the products and quantities that Public Health receives. We aim for an equitable distribution to all health care providers interested in participating in the Universal Influenza Immunization Program.

    The distribution of influenza vaccine doses is expected to begin in late September to Public Health Units and continue across the province in October when additional doses are received from manufacturers. Public Health will send you a letter detailing 2020-2021 influenza information including the specifics about your initial allotment of influenza vaccine.

    After you receive your initial allotment in October, you will be able to order more flu vaccine from Public Health using the seasonal influenza vaccine order form.

    Public Health is unable to take your unused influenza vaccine back to use or redistribute. To help ensure less waste, only order influenza vaccine in amounts that you're certain your office can use. You can order more vaccine as required.

    Pharmacies

    Pharmacies have a different distributor for the influenza vaccine (not Public Health).

    Pharmacies that have successfully completed the prequalification process need to refer to the Universal Influenza Immunization Program or contact the Ministry of Health for information related to vaccine ordering, return, reporting and reimbursement. The Ministry of Health will notify all approved pharmacies in an email before the launch of the 2020-2021 Universal Influenza Immunization Program in fall 2020.

    Prequalified Facilities

    The Ministry of Health will notify all approved vaccine providers in an email before the launch of the 2020-2021 Universal Influenza Immunization Program in fall 2020. Facilities that have successfully completed the pre-qualification process can order from Public Health using the Universal Influenza Immunization Program order form.

  • When to immunize

    All Universal Influenza Immunization Program participants can begin immunizing as soon as supply is received, understanding that reorders will not occur until the provincial supply is replenished through additional shipments from manufacturers.

    Health care providers wishing to conduct mass (large-scale) influenza community vaccination clinics for all eligible individuals should wait until November to ensure that an adequate supply of vaccine can be ordered.

  • Influenza vaccine delivery during COVID-19

    The following measures should be considered regardless of how you offer the influenza vaccine to patients:

    • Give the influenza vaccine to patients and their accompanying person when they are seen for other reasons
    • Use booked appointments to reduce crowding and maintain physical distancing
    • Schedule appointments when well persons are visiting. For example, have immunizations and well patient visits in the mornings and sick patient visits in the afternoon.
    • Use a dedicated entrance / exit to establish one-way traffic flow through the clinic
    • Avoid waiting room use by having patients come directly to the immunization room. Conduct assessment, provide immunization, and allow for the 15-minute post-vaccine wait period in the same room.

    If you're considering a satellite, temporary or off-site location to hold a flu clinic, here's a list of resources. Remember that Canadian guidance prevails in the event of any conflict with the following international resources:

    Refer to the Guidance for influenza vaccine delivery in the presence of COVID-19 for additional adaptions recommended by National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Additional Resources

Questions and Answers for Health Care Providers

Recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and Public Health Ontario

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